Preview: SHC semi-final - Galway v Tipperary

August 15, 2015

Iarla Tannian of Galway clashes with Tipperary's Patrick Maher. INPHO

All roads lead to Croke Park tomorrow afternoon with a place in this year's All-Ireland senior hurling championship final up for grabs when Tipperary take on Galway.

The last meeting between these two sides saw Tipp come out on top comfortably, as they handed the Tribesmen a 3-25 to 4-14 defeat in Thurles in the first round of last year's qualifiers.

However, Galway hurling finds itself back in a good place again since then, returning to the last four of the All-Ireland series for the first time since their brave run to the final in 2012, when they lost out after a replay to Brian Cody's Kilkenny.

Tipp are favourites again for this last four clash and the Munster champions have talked up the Connacht men ahead of Sunday's showdown, with team manager Eamon O'Shea citing them as "a massive challenge" for his team.

"Galway have been really good this year, consistent, they're strong and I think they are a formidable team," O'Shea told The Irish Times last Thursday.

"It's a truism, it's often repeated, but it is true that they are one of the teams along with ourselves and others that can win the All-Ireland. That's certainly true this year because they have been very impressive in terms of their consistency, their strength and I think that's the challenge we face. It's a massive challenge for us."

Galway boss Anthony Cunningham, who says he has been at all of Tipp's games this year, believes that his side's ability to concede as few goals as possible will be a crucial factor for them tomorrow.

"They play a certain style under Eamon (O'Shea) and it's very hard to combat," Cunningham said earlier in the week. "It has served them well. Tipperary over the past five to seven years have brought tremendous style and scores to the game.

"They beat us with goals last year so we are very well aware of the threat that Callanan and O'Dwyer pose. It will come down to that, we have to keep goals out."

The Premier County welcome ace attacker Noel McGrath back into their squad, after a long absence, and make just one change to the side which saw off Waterford (0-21 to 0-16) in last month's Munster final, which sees Conor O'Brien come in at left corner-back for Michael Breen.

Galway, meanwhile, have stuck with the same starting 15 which trounced Cork in the quarter-finals on a 2-28 to 0-22 score-line. Joe Canning leads the attack from full-forward, but many believe the Tribesmen's chances will be pinned on the performances of Cyril Donnellan and Jonathan Glynn, who has been in sensational form this summer, in the half-forward line.

It all makes for a cracking contest, with champions Kilkenny awaiting the winners on September 6 at HQ.

Verdict - Tipperary

Tipperary team: Darren Gleeson; Cathal Barrett, James Barry, Conor O'Brien; Ronan Maher, Padraic Maher, Kieran Berginl James Woodlock, Shane McGrath; Jason Forde, Brendan Maher, Patrick Maher; John O'Dwyer, Seamus Callanan, Niall O'Meara.

Galway team:  Colm Callanan; Johnny Coen, John Hanbury, Padraig Mannion; Aidan Harte, Iarla Tannian, Daithi Burke; Andrew Smith, David Burke; Conor Whelan, Cyril Donnellan, Jonathan Glynn; Jason Flynn, Joe Canning, Cathal Mannion.

Match details: Sunday; Croke Park; 4pm

Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath)

Odds: Tipperary 4/9; Draw 10/1; Galway 9/4

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